Rackspace to roll out Azure as managed service
Customers can run Azure public cloud alongside Rackspace’s private offering
Rackspace is set to provide Microsoft Azure as a managed service, taking the weight off customers who want to use the public cloud.
The firm said its latest offering comes in response to user demand, and allows customers to adopt a hybrid cloud strategy, mixing Azure with Rackspace’s own private cloud (which is powered by Microsoft).
Darren Norfolk, Rackspace’s UK managing director, told Cloud Pro that customers want to deploy Azure but believe it’s too complicated for them to manage.
“There’s about 84 different products on Azure you can consume and that’s the challenge our customers are facing,”Norfolk said.
“There’s a desire to consume a cloud platform, whether that be private or public. [But] the reality is that very quickly if you’re not in control, you can have spiralling costs that get out of control and that’s very risky for enterprise organisations.
“We see Microsoft’s Azure offering a lot of credibility from a technology point of view in that enterprise space, but our customers need a little bit more support and help navigating that.”
Fanatical Support for Azure includes 24/7 support from Microsoft-certified Rackspace engineers, help architecting applications and databases to run at cloud-scale and various monitoring tools to address any issues.
Rackspace can also help customers build hybrid applications that work on-premise, in Azure and in Rackspace’s private cloud, while its database support exists as an on-demand service for SQL Server and SQL database deployments.
The primary use case Rackspace predicts for its managed Azure service is development and testing of new applications.
“They will be using public cloud for dev and test environments but then they will be using Rackspace dedicated for their production,” claimed Jeff De Verter, chief technologist at the managed cloud provider.
But customers already using other Rackspace-managed clouds, like offerings from VMware and OpenStack, should soon be able to tie those to Azure thanks to Active Directory (AD).
AD will be the first Azure service Rackspace introduces, and it will allow customers to connect to Rackspace services via Azure’s ExpressRoute or point-to-point VPN connectivity.
“Azure Active Directory is the glue,” said De Verter. “We’re starting to fit that networking layer, making sure we give appropriate authentications.”
Norfolk added: “Then your ability to pick and choose what platform you use, whether that be Azure, OpenStack, VMware, whatever your adoption is, that becomes much more seamless.”
However, Rackspace will not launch its Azure managed service until late 2015 or early 2016, though it claims to have a roadmap of product releases planned up to autumn 2016.
Customers will have two choices of how they buy this managed service – Fanatical Support for Azure provides support only, and is suited to those already using Azure infrastructure.
They can buy Rackspace managed services at a price based on their Azure infrastructure investment.
Meanwhile, Fanatical Support with Azure Bundle lets customers buy Azure infrastructure and support together from Rackspace, whose engineers will help them deploy the service.
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